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Minneapolis City Council endorses Twins stadium site
by Rochelle Olson

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday endorsed building a new Minnesota Twins ballpark on land behind the Target Center.

The action also called for city officials to begin talks with the landowners and team officials, a process that is unrelated to the team's efforts to secure state funding for a new stadium.

The council voted 12-0, with Member Jim Niland abstaining, to approve a report from city agencies that identified the preferred site for a new stadium and supported efforts to build the new facility with private funds.

The report is based on recommendations issued earlier this year by a citizens' panel loosely tied to New Ballpark Inc., a group of downtown business leaders trying to raise private money to build an urban ballpark.

Council Member Paul Ostrow called the vote "another really important step." No one spoke against the measure. "It seems like we are finding more common ground than we've ever had," he said.

The council's action directs the city's working group to meet with the Twins by April 20.

Twins spokesman Dave St. Peter said the team appreciated the New Ballpark and city effort and, "At the appropriate time, we'd be more than willing to sit down."

The council's action also means the city will begin talking to the owners of the 11-acre tract between Interstate Hwy. 394 and Hennepin County's garbage incinerator and N. 5th and N. 7th streets. The land is now a parking lot and is owned by Investment Management Inc., which is willing to sell.

Niland said he abstained from the vote because of concerns that the report directed the city's lobbyist to talk to legislators about the ballpark bill being considered at the Capitol.

The bill would require $150 million contribution from the Twins and other private sources, a $100 million interest-free state loan, a $40 million grant and more than $10 million in tax breaks. Niland opposes it because of what he called the "massive subsidy" it would require.